Sourdough Saturday – Mom’s Orange Blossom Rolls

Luckily for me, my Mom was a child of the 1950’s. She followed the expectations of that era and pored her heart and soul into being a wife and mother. A big part of that was cooking. I fondly remember soft chocolate chip cookies, cream puffs made from scratch with a real custard filling, fried dough made in a deep skillet on the stove top, and sweet rolls baked with a tangy-sweet orange topping. Here I have adapted her much loved recipe using a sourdough starter made with all-purpose flour. At least I think it’s her recipe. I have a copy of the recipe she adapted, but she never actually wrote down her own process. For twenty years she made orange rolls for every special occasion until one day….she didn’t. Time went on and now neither of us can remember exactly how she made them. The moral of this story is, if you have a family specialty, write it down. Even if you think you’ll always remember how to make it, someday you will forget. Good advice for me too! So even if these aren’t exactly Mom’s rolls, they are soft, citrusy, and sweet – perfect for a spring day.


  • 2 cups of sourdough starter
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 1/2 – 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 4 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp grated orange peel
  • 1/3 cup butter


Mix orange juice, 3/4 cup sugar, orange peel, and 1/3 cup butter in a saucepan. Cook over low heat until butter melts. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 inch baking pan.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl or stand mixer bowl, combine the sourdough starter, milk, salt, 4 Tbsp sugar, and egg until well mixed. Add the flour and knead until dough has a satiny sheen; 8-10 minutes by hand, about 5 minutes when using a stand mixer.

Roll the dough into a 12 x 10 inch rectangle. Brush with melted butter. Sprinkle brown sugar over the dough.

Roll up the dough from the long side of the rectangle. Slice into 15 rolls. 

Place the rolls in the 9 x 13 inch pan, making 5 rows of 3 rolls each.  Cover and let rise in a warm place for 2 – 3 hours. Remove cover and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until well-browned.

Remove rolls from the oven and invert on a cooling rack. Make sure that the cooling rack is placed over parchment paper or you will have a mess! The orange topping will drip some. Let rolls cool at least 15 minutes before serving. Sticky but delicious!

Sourdough sweet breads are not all that common, but I have really enjoyed the extra flavor it gives to the three recipes I done over these last few weeks (cinnamon rolls, hot cross buns). So what do you think? Have you ever made sourdough sweet breads before? How do you think they compare to regular, straight-dough sweet breads?

Don’t forget to check out all the great bread recipes over at the Wild Yeast Blog, where I’ll be submitting this recipe to Yeastspotting,



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About the Author

Renee Pottle, an author and heart-healthy educator, loves to explore and write about the Mediterranean Diet. She blogs at and

Comments (3)

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  1. […] weeks of sourdough dessert-like sweet breads (cinnamon rolls, hot cross buns, orange blossom rolls) was a nice sojourn, but it’s time for a good, old-fashioned, useful bread, once that can be […]

  2. Jenni says:

    Oh, I love this! I love using my starter for all kinds of fun things, so I will definitely have to give this a try! 🙂

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